The Bishop James Theodore Holly Chapter of The Union of Black Episcopalians located at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Buffalo, New York held their Northeast Regional Conference on Saturday, May 4 at the Conference and Events Center in Niagara Falls, New York.n
The Conference opened up with an emotional video about racial injustice in the Episcopal Church several years ago. It featured Thomas Ashford, Warden Emeritus, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Niagara Falls and was narrated by its Priest-in-Charge, Rev. Helen Harper.
The focus of the Conference was Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s strategic vision of Becoming Beloved Community. Under the theme “Black Church, White Church, One Church”, the attendees participated in roundtable discussions structured around the four quadrants of the Beloved Community labyrinth: Telling the Truth; Proclaiming the Dream; Practicing the Way of Love; Repairing the Breach.
The Conference encouraged participants to engage in discussion around the interrelated commitments of the Beloved Community labyrinth in an effort to respond to racial reconciliation, justice and healing within the Episcopal Church.
The highlight of the Conference was the Luncheon presentation of the Bishop Holly Chapter“Racial Healing and Transformation Award” to recently retired Bishop R. William Franklin of the Diocese of Western New York. Bishop Franklin was instrumental in organizing the Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination and was supportive of the Chapter’s efforts in planning this Conference and encouraged the Commission’s support of the Conference as well. Rev. Jonathan Staples, Pastor of First Shiloh Baptist Church, was the Luncheon Keynote Speaker and the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Western New York, brought closing remarks.
A Eucharist was held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at the close of the Conference under the leadership of Worship Co-Chairs, Rev. Helen Harper and Rev. Steve Lane, Priest-in-Charge of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. The Sermon was delivered by Northeast Regional Director, The Rev. Canon Dr. Lynn A. Collins.
Wayne A. Blassingame, President of the Bishop Holly Chapter, was assisted in the planning of the Conference by Michael Hughes and Kim Greene, Co-Chairs; Hon. Rose H. Sconiers, Conference Dean; Ann Burroughs, Registrar/Treasurer/Program Designer; Josephine Cross, Dispatch of Business; Deacon Lillian Davis-Wilson and Herman Wilson, Activity Co-Chairs and Paul Nevergold, Transportation Chair.